Thousands sign petition to replace torn-down Colston statue in Bristol with civil rights campaigner

Thousands agree that the Colston statue should be replaced with one commemorating Paul Stephenson. Credit: PA images

Thousands of people have signed a petition to replace Bristol's torn down Edward Colston statue with one remembering a civil rights campaigner.

Paul Stephenson OBE is probably most well-known for organising the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963, after one of the city's bus companies refused to employ ethnic minorities.

It lasted for 60 days and ended with the bus company overturning its ban.

Dr Stephenson's actions were later instrumental in the creation of the 1965 Race Relations Act.

Edward Beeston, who started the petition to replace the statue, said "it is time a suitable replacement is found that honours black Bristolians."

  • The moment protesters pulled down Edward Colston's statue during a Bristol Black Lives Matter protest

It comes after protesters in Bristol pulled down the bronze memorial of the slave trader during a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday 7 June.

Millions of people have watched the footage online, which shows them rolling it through the city centre before throwing it into the harbour.

Downing Street called the removal a "criminal act", while Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was "utterly disgraceful".

Protesters knelt on the neck of the statue once it had been pulled down. Credit: PA images

Mr Beeston's petition to replace the slave trader with a commemoration of Paul Stephenson has surpassed 30,000 signatures in two days.

I believe that one candidate for his replacement would be Paul Stephenson. He led the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, started because Bristol Post announced in 1961 that black workers were refused work despite a worker shortage due to a resolution from the Transport and General Workers' Union. The Boycott influenced the creation of the Race Relations Act.

Edward Beeston, petition-creator

Avon and Somerset Police is now investigating the incident and trying to identify the individuals who pulled down the statue.

On Monday (8 June) police bosses defended officers for not intervening to stop the protesters.